Flanagan holds a BA in Film from the University of Milwaukee, MFA and MA degrees from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in Computational Media focusing on activist game design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, UK. She is currently on the faculty of the Department of Film and Media Studies at Hunter College, CUNY.
She has been involved in game design and other computational practices since the mid-1990’s. She is an activist particularly concerned with gender representations in computer games, and a self-described explorer of the everyday. Her work has been exhibited at the Guggenheim, the Whitney Museum of American Art, SIGGRAPH, the Banff Centre, the University of Arizona and international venues in Brazil, France, UK, Canada, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Australia. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Pacific Cultural Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts for projects, among others, that design non-violent games for girls, including “The Adventures of Josie True,” the first web-based adventure game for girls. She has published widely in such periodicals as Art Journal, Wide Angle, Intelligent Agent, and Culture Machine. She is the co-editor of two collections, reload: rethinking women + cyberculture, and re:skin, from MIT Press.She has remarked that in her work, she looks for chance accidents that she thinks lend a “human” element to the rigorous precision of computer algorithms.